Kellen Stepler | editor-in-chief
Like the month of March, the Duquesne Duke mascot is bringing the semester in like a lion.
On Jan. 13, the Duquesne Athletic department unveiled a new design for the Duquesne Duke mascot. Similar in style with the new Duquesne “D” athletics logo, the design consists of a lion’s face donning a top hat.
“I think the new mascot is a little out of the blue, considering we just took up the new ‘D’ for athletics,” said Natalie St. Hill, a freshman music education major. “Personally, I think it’s silly that our Duquesne Duke is now a lion … with a top hat, nonetheless.”
The reimagination of the mascot was considered to be “phase two” of Duquesne Athletics’ rebranding in May 2019. The first phase — giving the Duquesne “D” a facelift, along with a new font style — kicked off a multi-year process to completely rebrand Duquesne Athletics.
James Bacon, the associate design director for Changeup, Inc., noted Duquesne’s academic seal as inspiration for the new design, in a video explaining the design on social media.
“We were looking at what other assets Duquesne utilized in the rest of their rebranding, and we didn’t get any further than the academic seal,” Bacon said. “You’re already leveraging, to some extent, a lion, so why not make that our Duke?”
The uniqueness of the Duke design, according to Changeup, Inc. Executive Creative Director Ryan Brazelton, sets Duquesne’s mascot apart from other lion mascots. Changeup, Inc. headed the rebranding of Duquesne Athletics.
“There are a lot of lions out there … but if we look back to the Duke itself, there were no lions with a top hat,” Brazelton said in the video. “That is really cool, unique and weird, in like the best sort of way.”
James Madison University — also the Dukes — use a “duke dog” as their mascot. The Dukes from Virginia are represented by a bulldog wearing a crown.
“I like the new mascot, but it looks kind of weird with the top hat,” said junior pharmacy student Sam Connolly.
Connolly noted that the mascot is another addition to the list of cat mascots for Pennsylvania colleges. The University of Pittsburgh, for example, has the Panthers, Penn State has the Nittany Lions and Villanova University is represented by the Wildcats.
The Duke’s eyes may look familiar to Pittsburgh sports fans. The hypocycloids (diamond shapes) are used in the Steelers’ recognizable logo.
“That is such a strong and powerful connector back to Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh athletic programs,” Bacon said.
In a May 2019 press release from Duquesne Athletics unveiling the new “D,” Athletic Director Dave Harper said that “it was a priority of ours to incorporate key university and Pittsburgh elements into our new visuals.”